I was just getting comfortable at last night’s Authors’ Reception when the caterers corked the wine and disappeared the casseroles and the party volunteers began nudging us toward the exits. Disappointed that the hobnobbing had come to an end, I gathered my things and stuck some silver into my purse (just kidding, Casteen), prepared to take my leave in as much unpublished, un-agented glory as I had arrived. Just then, from the heated tent on Carr’s Hill, came twin 12-year-old girls dressed in matching outfits of pristine white. They accessorized with pearl tiaras, silver slippers, and hair that hadn’t been cut since they were babies. “What have we here?” I thought, moving to block their path to the exit.
“Are you elves or fairies?” asked the man beside me.
“We’re humans,” said one of the twins, smiling like her life depended on it. She was evidently used to answering patronizing questions from grown-ups.
“Please tell me you’ve written a book,” I said.
“We’ve written three,” said the girl.
The identical twins make up two-thirds of the author J.B.B. Winner, a fictional composite of the sisters and their father. Together they have written the Strand Prophecy sci-fi series. To promote the books and to inspire their fellow middle-schoolers, the girls tour the nation dancing, lip-syncing, and speaking about literacy. Brittany/Brianna told me the edifying story of how they became authors, a story I later heard her recite word for word on the internet.
“Wow,” I said. “Let me tell you what I was doing in sixth grade. Worrying about tongue-kissing. Wondering if I could avoid it my whole life.”
Because Brittany/Brianna nodded her head with such maturity and understanding, I kept going. “That’s right. I was afraid of tongue-kissing. And then I started getting suspended from school.” B/B’s father hovered just out of earshot, but he was starting to look at me suspiciously. I knew I had precious little time to corrupt these girls and to break down their preternaturally sweet and sophisticated personas.
“So,” B/B said, “Tell me what you do. Are you an author? What is your novel about?” I looked into the kind, interested face that B/B had probably practiced in the mirror before the party, and I forgot my cruel agenda. Someone asking about my novel! I no longer cared that she was 12, or that she dressed like the princess in A Neverending Story, or that her parents had probably read her Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People every night before bed, or had made her watch Hannah Montana interviews and concert videos on loop until she got her act down. I no longer cared because she had asked me about my novel, and we were going to be new best friends, and I was going to tell her about myself until her parents dragged her away from the party to the secret empire-building, underground training lair she shares with her sister and a thousand white stage costumes.